Baskerville, John [key], 1706–75, English designer of type and printer. He and Caslon were the two great type designers of the 18th cent. in England. He began his work as printer and publisher in 1757 and in 1758 became printer to the Univ. of Cambridge. Baskerville's first volume was a quarto edition of Vergil. His type faces introduced the modern, pseudoclassical style, with level serifs and with emphasis on the contrast of light and heavy lines. This style influenced that of the Didot family in France and that of Bodoni in Italy. Books printed by Baskerville are typically large, with wide margins, made with excellent paper and ink. His masterpiece was a folio Bible, published in 1763. After his death his wife operated the press until 1777. Then most of his types were purchased by Beaumarchais and were used in his 70-volume edition of Voltaire. The matrices, long lost, were rediscovered and in 1953 were presented to Cambridge Univ. Press. Among Baskerville's publications in the British Museum are Aesop's Fables (1761), the Bible (1763), and the works of Horace (1770).
See biographies by W. Bennett (1939) and H. Evans (1953); bibliography by Philip Gaskell (1959).
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